Today I spoke with Francesco Grillo (co-authored with Raffaella Nanetti) about his latest book, Democracy and Growth in the 21st Century: The Diverging Cases of China and Italy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Despite the title, it is not strictly a book on China or Italy. It is a visionary contribution to both economics and political theory that reflects on the crisis of the West and the paradoxical success of China.
Is democracy still the best political regime for countries to adapt to economic and technological pressures and increase their level of prosperity? While the West seems to have stagnated in an environment of political mistrust, increasing inequality and low growth, the rise of the East has shown that it may not be liberal democracy that is best at accommodating the social mutations that technologies have triggered.
The cases of China and Italy form the research focus as two extremes in growth performance. China is the star of globalisation in the East, while Italy is the laggard of globalisation in the West and a laboratory of creeping political meltdown now shared by other major Western economies. But is this forever? Introducing the ‘innovation paradox’ as the main challenge to the West and the notion of ‘knowledge democracy’ as key to sustainable growth, this book presents a new side to the debate on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or fifth as the authors argue). It is a vital reading for all those questioning what kind of democracy positively impacts innovation as the force whose speed and direction transforms societies and economies.
Andrea Bernardi is Senior Lecturer in Employment and Organization Studies at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. He holds a doctorate in Organization Theory from the University of Milan, Bicocca. He has held teaching and research positions in Italy, China and the UK. Among his research interests are the use of history in management studies, the co-operative sector, and Chinese co-operatives. His latest project is looking at health care in rural China. He is the co-convener of the EAEPE’s permanent track on Critical Management Studies.